New Limerick Footbridge

New ways of thinking are needed

Proposals for the newest Limerick footbridge have run into quite a lot of criticism, though the reason for that might simply be due to the way it was reported by the local newspaper.  This is no great criticism of the Limerick Leader by the way, since the nature of such papers by definition is fairly superficial.

The formula is  simple.  You have two choices.

Choice 1.   Send out a reporter with no understanding of the underlying technicalities, assemble  a story with a quote from a local councillor condemning the plan, an inane comment from the ever-available local resident and contrast it with the opinion of the equally-ubiquitous one man.  Illustrate it with a snap from our own photog or even better a graphic provided by the Council, and you have a ready-made condemnation of a plan that was prepared with great effort by people who actually thought about the design.

Choice 2.  Send out a reporter with no understanding of the underlying technicalities and have them slavishly report whatever PR tosh they’re thrown by the local authority.

In this case the Limerick Leader opted for Choice 2 but that’s local papers for you, and the Limerick Leader is no different.  The modus operandi exists everywhere in the world and it’s fine if you’re interested in death notices and soccer results, but if you want hard information, the local rag is not your go-to source.

limerick bridge

Many people I respect greatly have criticised the proposal for a new bridge, but this time I’m going to withhold judgement until I see how it works out.  If anything, from what I’ve seen so far, the plan isn’t radical enough.  What would be wrong with using the existing weir as the structural base for a walkway that follows the flow of the water all the way to the Shannon rowing club?  Now that would really be spectacular, if  wow-factor is what they’re looking for.  What would be wrong with cantilevering the walkway over the river so that people could experience at first hand the primal roar of the water as it rushes across the weir?  This is perfectly feasible in engineering terms and considering how limp the marina project has proven to be, perhaps it would finally take advantage of the huge undertaking involved in constructing the weir.

I’m not buying into the condemnation yet, until we see precisely what the logic is, but I would say that the logic needs to be challenged in a positive way.  Instead of the usual Limerick knee-jerk conditioned response, the safe old it-will-never-work answer, how about looking at the plans and suggesting how they could be even better?

Wouldn’t that be the imaginative way for our town to go instead of constantly finding fault with things and wallowing in the old, the safe and the familiar?

5 thoughts on “New Limerick Footbridge

  1. I’m one of those knee-jerk opponents. One of the main reasons for strongly opposing it is that it is basically a solo run by a city official that is being presented as progress on the Limerick 2030 plan. It has literally come out of nowhere, and I really don’t think big decisions effecting the city should happen this way. That it leapfrogs other long-awaited, worthwhile projects is simply poor governance and we should be beyond that kind of rank amateurism at this stage.

    I’m not sure any of the opposition has been on the ‘it will never work’ variety. As far as I can see, most are questioning the huge cost and the rationale behind it, and there have been many comments about the aesthetic element too. If you go down the super-radical route, as you’ve suggested, then the bridge/walkway could become an attraction in and of itself, but you’re messing with an age old vista there and it would be important to get it right. Nothing short of a highly publicised international design competition would convince me that we might be left with something that actually enhances the area and has a positive impact on the city. There’s a strong sense that the level of thinking behind this is basic at best. The successful completion of the boardwalk on Clancy Strand seems to have given the Council the notion that boardwalks can only be a positive thing. The Howley’s Quay development was a highly dubious and this proposed one more dubious still.

    There’s a few other issues too. Is it really proposed to begin at Shannon Rowing Club? Noonan said so, but all the images and other reports suggest that it won’t, and that Arthur’s Quay Park is the starting point. If it is proposed to connect Shannon Rowing Club with King’s Island it makes even less sense.

    Your image implies the demolition of the Civic Offices on Merchant’s Quay. I applaud that idea , but there is no plan for this to happen, alas. As for using the weir as a structural support, I would imagine that significant other supports would be required, and that the weir alone is not capable of supporting what is proposed.

    If we’re going to throw €16 million at a radical bridge project, let’s build one from Howley’s Quay to O’Callaghan Strand as an extension of Shannon Street?

  2. I think Noonan mentioned the Curragour boat club, not Shannon, but I could be wrong about that.

    The structural implications of a walkway on the weir are trivial. It’s easily achievable.

  3. I’m not arguing that the weir can’t be used to support the proposed structure, but that significant extra supports will be required. The weir doesn’t offer any great advantage from a structural point of view, I would imagine, but would welcome input from a structural engineer on that,

  4. Calgary’s ‘Peace Bridge’ would be quite an example to follow.
    It is of tube design so no supports were required along the length of it.
    Expensive, took a few years to finish, but it’s a beauty.
    Photographers travel from all over just get night shots there.

  5. I hope its wide enough for bicycles to use . BIcycles are banned from using the LIving bridge in UL.

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